I was recently selected to paint three outdoor windows on the Marco Island Historical Museum as part of their series called “windows and doors”.
Five different local artists were selected by the Marco Island Historical Society to create seventeen windows and three doors for the exterior of the museum. These panels will feature the history of Marco Island from pre-historic times to modern day Marco Island.
Originally inhabited by the Calusa Indians, and then settled by the Europeans, Marco Island was purchased by the Mackle brothers in 1962. Elliot, Robert and Frank, Jr., purchased the land from the Collier family for seven million dollars and began to transform it into a resort community through their development company, The Deltona Corporation. Their vision was to create a range of luxury and beach side living. In 1965, the Mackle brothers organized an advertising campaign for the island that ran worldwide. This initial campaign attracted almost 25,000 people who were shown inland homes for $14,900 and waterside homes priced at $19,800. Today, a waterside home on Marco Island starts at nearly a million dollars.
When the Marco Island Historical Museum was built several years ago, these descriptive window panels where delineated but not installed because of a lack of funding. In April of 2015, a private party was held at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Rene Champagne. They raised over $800,000 of the over one million dollars needed to fund the event, and more donations are coming in.
This means that the project is fully under way!
My portion of the project will feature modern day Marco.
I will be able to create the paintings using the materials of my choice. They will then be scanned and reproduced on materials that are outdoor friendly, so when the images fade or start to fall apart from the elements, they can be replaced with a copy. At this moment, I am feeling that I will probably use acrylics and mixed media to create the designs. But I know I won’t make the final decisions until I work out the composition and the colors I will be using. I’m excited about the project because it ties in with my love of history. It is also a sister to my new “Hysterical Women” series and my “American Native “ series.
For the first window, I am planning to create a scene using the bow of the Marco Islander as my subject matter. The Marco Islander was a custom built boat that was designed to look like a Polynesian party boat. Real estate agents used the boat to show waterway lots on Marco Island to prospective buyers. The boat has since been scrapped, but the twin heads are on permanent display at Stan’s Idle Hour Restaurant in Goodland, Florida. I think this is a great tie in to both modern Marco and its history.
The second window will feature scenes from Marco Island Airways. The Mackle Brothers created their own airline to fly prospective buyers to Marco Island to view their property. The airline started flying in 1972, mostly between Marco Island and Miami, where it tied in with Eastern Airlines. It later added a few other cities, as well as Delta Airlines as an additional carrier. I am especially fond of a scene that shows their flight attendants on the gangplank, which will become the focal point of the painting-(if I can get permission to wrk with the image I want). The Mackle Brothers literally created modern day Marco Island and this airline helped to shape its history. Plus, the image is simply delightful.
The third panel will feature Marco Island and some local color. Golfers Gene “the Squire” Sarazen and Marco’s first golf pro, Tony “Champagne” Lema will be the focal points of this painting. They were both resident golf pros at the Marco Island Country Club. This institution was founded in 1966 and has consistently been a premier amenity for residents. I have had a blast looking through old copies of the “Marco Islander” magazine (a Deltona publication) for ideas for the images!
I think this project is a very clever and unique way to bridge the history of the island and its modern face. Our little island is a retreat for people all over the nation–and it has been since its inception. Reflecting that with art is an amazing way to invoke a deep connection with that past while remaining relevant in the present. I am looking forward to it!